The forgotten champions
Dallas Fuel, formerly known as the Western powerhouse Team EnvyUs, were no strangers to success in the APEX era of competition. At the start of the scene, Team EnvyUs were consistently a staple of greatness that needed to be reckoned with at every tournament. As the transition to the Overwatch League occurred, the goal for EnvyUs was to continue the run of prominence that took them to the heights of competition many times before.
A gradual implosion
The results for Dallas Fuel since entering the OWL have not been up to expectations. Before the season started, Fuel were an almost guaranteed lock for playoffs simply with the names and sheer amount of talent on the roster. As the Stages have progressed, Fuel has looked more and more lackluster as the team has splintered, management has lost control, and the bus seems to be rolling down the mountain with no breaks in sight.
It wasn’t necessarily just the results that made Fuel suffer over the course of the season. It seemed as though after every match series there was at least one player ‘venting’ about their frustrations of themselves or their team in completely unprofessional manners. The back and forth between players and staff, lack of confidence from the best players on the team, and virtually no attempt at properly managing these attitudes eventually boiled over as the results only continued to suffer.
On top of that, losing a tank player in xQc for almost the entire league has not helped the team consistency whatsoever. Whether it’s Taimou, EFFECT of formerly Custa, there always seemed to be differing opinions that refused to reconcile that lead to the gradual implosion of a team lauded so highly.
Less than ideal
Stage Two saw a different approach to the team composition as Dallas Fuel added aKm to their ranks. Although aKm had early success against less than optimal rosters, the constant struggle for Fuel continued behind the scenes as roster struggles, off-role accommodations and truly awful communication cost the Dallas Fuel another Stage of heartbreak.
This Stage was quite different though in terms of roster breakdown. From all sides, for all reasons, every player seemed in conflict with upper management as aKm, Rascal and team manager KyKy were caught in the middle of a highly publicized team conflict. The problems started when Rascal, Dallas Fuel’s most potent and stable damage threat, was made to sit out of team scrims and and participate in roster activities by the action of KyKy.
When aKm performed in his place and did less than ideal, aKm took to social media where he made a Twitter post describing the conflict, and threw his teammate under the bus in the process. Of course, Rascal had to publicly respond to the accusations of ‘ditching’ his team when they needed him. Rascal’s countering view of the situation put the Team Manager KyKy squarely to blame for the lapse in communication.
Conflicts, trades and attitude changes
Obviously, absolutely none of this situation is ideal for a team looking to rebuild off previous losses. Even the Shanghai Dragons carry themselves with more pride and discretion for teammates and staff. The players speaking out due to frustration is not ideal, but the problem comes directly with management as they’ve proven time and time again they don’t know how to control their players. The first unspoken rule of professional team atmospheres is to never speak in public against your team, and Dallas Fuel players have disregarded that completely.
The one small silver lining in wake of Stage Three is the return of Seagull to the main roster. After continued weeks of poor performances for Taimou, the one week Seagull was subbed in for the tank role made all the difference for the Fuel. Seagull was at one point the face of the Dallas Fuel, but in the constant roster shuffles since day one, Seagull lost favor. Now, it seems Dallas is prioritizing teamwork over name brand choices in their roster, and this may just be a move that becomes a net positive.
With the recent news in the transfer window of Custa being traded to the LA Valiant for Unkoe, many OWL fans were left scratching their heads as to which team is exactly ‘benefitting’ from this move. In typical Dallas Fuel fashion, Mickie came out and publically questioned the trade. In a way, you can’t fall the Fuel player for standing up for a teammate that genuinely deserved to be there.
Custa was the shot caller and most communicative player on Dallas Fuel for the last few weeks of their play. Moving a player that is essentially a cornerstone to your team makes little sense, but many believe the former Rogue pairing of aKm and Unkoe will give them an added boost since there is pre-existing synergy between those two players.
Either way, there are still massive question marks that will plague any success Fuel finds in the distant future. If they can develop a healthy team atmosphere that embraces criticism rather than punishes it, only then can Dallas succeed. Until then, the fire for Dallas has seemed to run out, but anything can happen in a league with so much variance.